Eight Malaysian citizens who were about to board a special flight to Malaysia were caught at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport today. Sources said they were part of the Tablighi Jamaat Centre at Nizamuddin, which has been marked as a hotspot for the spread of coronavirus. Though international flights are not operating, special flights are being operated by some nations to evacuate their nationals stranded in the country.
A third of the COVID-19 cases in the country – more than 1000 – are linked to last month’s religious gathering hosted by Tablighi Jamaat despite the government’s message of social distancing. Most of around 9,000 people who attended the event then dispersed to various parts of the country, leading to a surge of coronavirus cases across the country.
The eight Malaysians, who attended last month’s event, were hiding at different places in Delhi and intended to take a Malindo Air relief flight, sources said. Caught by the immigration department at the airport, they will be handed over to the Delhi Police and the Health department for further investigation. The matter comes as the Delhi Police have started tracing cellphone data to trace the people who were at the Delhi event or in its vicinity.
The Jamaat event was attended by a number of foreigners, who, the authorities said, were misusing their tourist visa by participating in religious events.
The home ministry has promised action.
“The home ministry has blacklisted 960 foreigners and their Indian visas have also been cancelled for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities while coming on tourist visas,” Union home minister Amit Shah’s office tweeted in Hindi earlier this week.
An official told NDTV that legal proceedings would be initiated against blacklisted Tablighi Jamaat workers under Section 14 of Foreigners Act, which involves misuse of visa.
The home ministry has also ordered action under the Disaster Management Act.